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Easy Eggplant and Ground Beef Recipe

Eggplant and Ground Beef Recipe with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Oregano

Ah, it’s great to be back home cooking in my own kitchen. While our three weeks in Vicksburg were good overall, nothing beats being home. Today I’m bringing you one final dish that I cooked in our hotel room in Vicksburg. It’s a stove-top prepared eggplant and ground beef recipe with tomatoes, mushrooms and oregano. It was the perfect dish to cook in a small hotel room kitchen, that’s for sure. I wasn’t originally going to bring you a second recipe from my time in Vicksburg, but once I had a particularly revealing experience with ground beef, I had to bring you this recipe…

I know you’re curious about that, but first, let’s back up a minute and get back to that hotel room. As you remember, I said in my last post that it was a tiny little space. The last time that housekeeping came for a visit, I got a shot of the kitchen in pristine shape. Below you can see what it was that I was working with – a microwave and two burners. However, I’m sure you see that dishwasher. I loved that dishwasher. I miss that dishwasher. However, I wouldn’t trade it for my home kitchen, despite how awesome and convenient it is. But yeah, I think about that thing alot…

Our little kitchen in Vicksburg

Anyway, let’s get back to the tale at hand. I’m sure you’e positively *dying* to hear about my ground beef revelation. Here goes: While temporarily living and shopping in a place like Vicksburg, I quickly realized that my options for grocery shopping were going to be much more limited than here in New Orleans. Jeremy and I decided that we could live with that – we really had little other choice. Our philosophy on eating is just “do the best you can.” That means, we make the best food choices possible given the entirety of the situation. My grocery shopping options were Kroger or Walmart. I don’t usually ever shop at Walmart, but I did twice while I was there. I always bought my meat at Kroger, though. It just appeared to be of higher quality, and most of the time, that was true.

Except for the ground beef… Ground beef was something that I bought more than once while in Vicksburg. The second week out there, I wanted to make hamburger steaks for us. When I perused the beef selection the first time I went to Kroger looking for beef, I didn’t realize that they had organic beef available. I may not even be doing this post had I realized that. But of course, it wasn’t with the regular beef. It was in a separate, out of the way section that I didn’t see. So I bought regular, grocery store beef, which retailed for about $4 per pound. Pre-formed patties at that, because I was just doing hamburger steaks so I figured I’d give myself a break and get pre-made patties. No big deal, right? Beef is beef, right? NOPE!

Frankly, I was shocked at how the beef tasted. It was terrible. We are used to eating grass fed local beef. The type of stuff that retails for $7-$10 per pound. In short, we eat the good stuff. That’s what our palates are trained for and that’s what we prefer – the rich full flavor of grass fed beef. I didn’t realize how terrible grocery store beef tasted. It had been years since I’d had regular grocery store beef that wasn’t barbecued or well-cooked into something else like a red sauce. The stark, simple hamburger steaks put this bland substance front and center. The flavor was flat, and the meat barely tasted like beef. Also: lots of water and fat gushed out of the patties as I cooked them, shrinking them ever smaller in size. The local beef I get here in New Orleans doesn’t do that. I rarely even need to drain that meat. It’s not often that it throws more than a tablespoon or so of liquid.

Eggplant and Ground Beef Recipe with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Oregano

So the next week, I decided to look more thoroughly through the beef at Kroger. I figured there must be a better solution than the cheap, tasteless beef. Guess what! I found it! It was $8.99 per pound, but it was organic so I felt comfortable paying that price. This is the beef I used in this dish. It was pretty tasty overall, but still didn’t come close to the beef that I am used to. I learned a highly valuable lesson with this. High quality meat is more expensive for a reason. It’s genuinely better tasting and a better value for the money. If nearly a third of the beef is water and fat, then that’s wasting money, and that’s exactly what happens with cheap meat. For my grocery dollars, I’d rather spend more to get better. To me, high quality trumps cheap price. Always. I realize that not everyone has that option, but I am very grateful that I do.

Another final reason why I’ve been so into better quality meat these days is that I’ve recently started making meat more of a focal point in my diet. Since I’ve cut out most of the quantity of carbs I was eating daily (read about that here), I’ve replaced those calories with meat and vegetables. I first made this particular version of this dish since I’ve been on this modified eating plan. This is a starchy carb-free version of a dish I used to make and serve over pasta. Now we just eat it as is, and it’s great. I don’t miss the pasta, and I love how filling and satisfying this dish is.

What about you? Have you had the experience where you’ve realized that a locally sourced, high quality product was leaps and bounds better than its plain grocery store counterpart? Tell me about it below! I love to share stories and experiences like that.

Eggplant and Ground Beef Recipe with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Oregano

Yield: 6 servings

Easy Eggplant and Ground Beef Recipe

This easy eggplant and ground beef recipe features tomatoes, mushrooms and oregano.
Perfect as is or served over pasta or bulgur.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grape seed, safflower, or olive oil)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
  • 1-8 ounce package of fresh button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), cut into large cubes (keep skin on)
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano (mix it up with basil and/or thyme if you’d like)
  • Optional garnish: shredded Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet with the first teaspoon of kosher salt. Once browned through, drain any grease or water, and set aside for now.
  2. In a separate large pot that you have a lid for, heat the oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add the chopped onion, two teaspoons of kosher salt, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Cook seven to nine minutes, stirring often, until softened, translucent and slightly browned.
  5. Add the garlic, stir well, and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes, stir well, and cook until the pot is soupy with tomato juice, about three minutes.
  7. Add the mushrooms, stir well and cook until the mushrooms are softened and shiny, about another three minutes.
  8. Add the eggplant, dried oregano and cooked ground beef. Stir well to incorporate.
  9. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  10. Serve as is or topped with parmesan cheese. Also pairs well with pasta or bulgur.

Prep:25 min

Cook:45 min

Total:1 hour 10 min

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